Californians honor Cesar Chavez Day with community service

In honor of Cesar Chavez Day, communities across California are participating in a day of community service on Thursday.

That includes Martha’s Kitchen in San Jose, where Mayor Sam Liccardo volunteered Thursday morning, making sandwiches alongside other volunteers.

On what would have been Chavez’s 95th birthday, inflation and the cost of goods, especially groceries, are squeezing middle- and low-income families. Lines for meals at Martha’s Kitchen this month have grown longer.

“It’s painfully ironic because we’re seeing what we think is a growing economy, more jobs, an unemployment rate close to 3%,” Liccardo said as he arrived to volunteer at the soup kitchen in San Joseph. “What we do know is that the intensity of the need has not diminished, in fact, it has gotten worse. So we have a lot of work to do.”

Through a network of nearly 100 community partners, Martha’s kitchen provides nearly 100,000 meals and 25,000 pounds of groceries each month to those in need, and is currently accept volunteers.

“It’s the farm workers at the end of the day, it’s their labor that produces this essential resource for all of us,” Liccardo said, noting the connection to Chavez’s legacy.

“Chavez stood up for human rights, he was for the people, and I think we share that common goal,” said Linda Beltran, operations manager at Martha’s Kitchen. “He wanted to help as many underprivileged people as possible, and we’re doing the same here. We just want to feed more and more people. There’s a huge need for that in our community, and we’re grateful that we’ve been able to help.”

Chavez fought for improved working and living conditions for farm workers in the Central Valley, he co-founded the United Farm Workers union in 1962 with Dolores Huerta and championed the efforts of farm workers, bringing recognition and appreciation people who choose the foods that end up on family tables across the country.

Other cities also participate in honoring Chavez.

“What he did is not something that’s been resolved and in the past, but it’s still an ongoing thing,” said Ruby Rose Amezcua, a student at Tamalpais High School in San Rafael. “It’s something we need to be more aware of.”

Ruby, along with other juniors and seniors, marched Wednesday on the same route Chavez walked in 1970, in solidarity with typographers who were on strike at the time of the Marin Independent Journal.

Thursday would have been Cesar Chavez’s 95th birthday.

About Bradley J. Bridges

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